Wednesday, May 25, 2005

A ROUGH DEAL .......
Ten years ago EDDIE GALLAGHER went to prison for his part in the kidnapping of TIEDE HERREMA . He is still there , even though he did a deal which promised him only four years in jail . His accomplice , MARION COYLE , has been released . DEREK DUNNE reports on GALLAGHER's maverick relationship with the IRA , on the negotiations which led to the release of TIEDE HERREMA and on the roots of GALLAGHER's involvement .
First published in 'MAGILL' magazine , January 1986 , pages 6 , 7 , 8, and 9 .

At 8pm on November 7 , 1976 , the guns were thrown out of the siege house - that part of it was over . Eddie Gallagher gave Tiede Herrema a live .38 bullet before the end ; the kidnappers had had only five live rounds left for their three weapons . Eddie Gallagher and Marion Coyle were taken to the Bridewell Garda Station in Dublin and charged .

On February 12 , 1976 , Gallagher and Coyle , Brian McGowan and Vincent Walsh went on trial - the affair lasted twelve days ; Eddie Gallagher got twenty years , Marion Coyle got fifteen years , Davy Dunne got a three-year suspended sentence , Vincent Walsh and Brian McGowan got eight years each . In March 1977 , Thomas Dunne was given seven years , Michael Hall and P.J. Bailey were given five years each . The State entered a nolle prosequi in relation to Mrs Hall and Mrs Bailey . Eight people had been sentenced to a total of seventy-one years imprisonment in relation to the kidnapping of Dr. Tiede Herrema .

The day following the kidnap , Free State Justice Minister Paddy Cooney was asked , at a jubilant press conference , if there had been any concessions to the kidnappers ; he replied - " None at all . " Following protracted negotiations , Garda Commissioner Edmund Garvey put his signature on a document that gave a written assurance that Eddie Gallagher would have to spend no more than four years in prison and Marion Coyle no more than two years in prison , irrespective of the sentence imposed on them by the court . For the safe release of Dr. Tiede Herrema , Commissioner Garvey undertook to "... recommend to the Minister for Justice at the appropriate time that he should exercise his powers so as to remit in full the balances of such sentences then remaining after the expiry of four years in the case of Eddie Gallagher and two years in the case of Marion Coyle .

I understand and intend this undertaking to include , as well as the kidnapping itself , all other offences incidental to it . " The conditions attached to that agreement were that it should be kept confidential , save in the event of it not being honoured .......

The Life And Times Of Gerry Fitt.
By Nell McCafferty .
First published in ' MAGILL' magazine , July 1983 .

On Tuesday , October 1 , 1968 , journalist Mary Holland found herself in Gerry Fitt's home on the Antrim Road in Belfast : " It was a complete culture shock . I sat in the room he uses as a clinic on the ground floor - the basement underneath was the kitchen where his family spent their time . He had a wife and five daughters . Everytime he wanted a cup of tea he'd stamp three times on the floor , and up from the basement beneath would come a woman with a tray . I sat there and listened to him and the stream of constituents who called into the room to see him . They were still calling well after midnight . "

Next day she hired a car and drove him to Dungannon to see Austin Currie , Stormont Nationalist MP . Gerry Fitt did'nt know the way and it took them ages . His lifelong refusal to learn how to drive , which made him dependent on someone who could , and his ignorance of areas west of the Bann were to be major factors in his later political career . Paddy Kennedy ('Republican Labour Party ') said - " When he first started operating out of Dock , the Falls Road was Outer Mongolia to him ! "

Politically , Dungannon must have seemed beyond Mongolia to Mary Holland . Austin Currie told her of the house allocated to the single unmarried female secretary of the local Unionist party branch , and the dozens of large Catholic families on the waiting list . Currie had squatted in the house in protest and the RUC had evicted him .

Gerry Fitt whirled her onto Derry that evening ; she was worried that they had'nt made appointments - " Ah , not at all , " he said , " you just arrive in the City Hotel and it all happens . " They arrived , she ordered tea and sandwiches , he went out into the street for a few minutes and returned with Eamonn McCann , Ivan Cooper , and the future Brigade Staff of the Official IRA , Provisional IRA and the INLA . On that night , though , they were no more than what they represented themselves to be - young militant civil rights activists . Ivan Cooper was the 'radical mascot' , a Protestant who had defected from the Unionist Party .

They were going to march in Derry that coming weekend - Mary Holland flew back to England on Wednesday with her story .......

A DECADE OF CENSORSHIP .......Bernadette Quinn looks at the development of SECTION 31 of the Broadcasting Act , used by the Free State government to suppress the Republican viewpoint on state radio and television - and extended by Radio Telefis Eireann itself into a regime of self-censorship . From ' IRIS ' magazine , November 1983 .

In 1973 , a different administration took over power in Dublin - a Fine Gael and Labour coalition .

The new Free State Minister for Posts and Telegraphs was the Labour politician , Conor Cruise O' Brien . In 1972 he had opposed the sacking of the RTE Authority , saying in a Leinster House debate - " We believe that in modern conditions the degree of autonomy possessed by a body like RTE is a major bastion of democracy . " Yet , two years later , this 'champion of democracy' was accusing any journalists who were opposed to Section 31 of the Broadcasting Act of being - " ...crypto-Provos and fascists .. " , and it was he who re-amended Section 31 to specifically ban members of named organisations - Sinn Fein , the IRA , and all other organisations banned in the North - from appearing on RTE .

The amendment that gave Conor Cruise O' Brien the power to do this read - (paragraph 1) ' Where the Minister is of the opinion that the broadcasting of a particular matter or any matter of a particular class would be likely to promote or incite to crime , or would tend to undermine the authority of the State , he may by Order direct the (RTE) Authority to refrain from broadcasting the matter or any matter of the particular class and the Authority shall comply with the Order . '

Paragraph 1(A) of the amendment made Section 31 renewable every 12 months by the Free State Minister for Posts and Telegraphs , and it has been religiously renewed ever since . This has meant that not only have Sinn Fein members , including elected representatives , not been allowed to appear in RTE coverage of events in the Six Counties , but that even Sinn Fein Councillors in the Free State have not been allowed to be interviewed on matters such as hospital closures , water charges or the provision of school buses ! There are innumerable instances since then of the use of Section 31 against Republicans .......

(To Paul William Stapleton : thank you for the visit and your words of encouragement . We are glad you found the site of some value to you in your quest . Our sources are varied ; old books , manuscripts , newspapers and , in some cases , writings left behind by those we mention in this blog . We have received literally hundreds of such 'leads' from our readers , and we hope to continue doing so . Should we receive more information on that particular person , we will post it here . Go raibh maith agat aris - Sharon. ).